One of the most remarkable advances in modern offices is that employees can now communicate using GIFs. While past generations relied on saying their workplace feelings Elmo Fire Meme aloud, today’s workers who use email or instant messenger services like Slack can tell a never-ending visual story through animated GIFs of pop singers, TV shows or cartoon characters on fire.
Selecting the ideal work GIFs is an effortless way to share the good news. Are you welcoming a new teammate or celebrating another accomplishment? Browse through our selection of work GIFs today!
Have you recently been promoted or given a raise?
But we spend a large portion of our lives working, and sometimes there are harder emotions involved than unreserved joy or gratitude. So what makes the ideal GIF for those moments in our careers?
I believe there is one perfect GIF to express all of the in-between, ambivalent emotions you might feel working at an unfeeling corporation: Elmo on fire.
Know Your Meme credits the Elmo-on-fire meme to a cake decoration. While I cannot confirm its exact origins or the identity of the genius who first imagined placing this children’s Muppet made of frosting into fiery hell with hands raised and eyes pleading upward, I humbly thank them nonetheless.
This GIF is ideal because words can sometimes fail. They cannot always accurately express all their thoughts about work in a group channel that bosses can view – which is exactly why Slack was created: to provide an access log of all communication and knowledge. GIFs bring ambiguity into the public-facing world employees live in where messy emotions about work are hashed out privately both offline and online.
Elmo fire meme is my go-to for conveying my emotions when facing layoffs, all-hand meetings, press releases, organizational pivots, and managers who offer free food in the office. His bulging eyes and crackling flames convey an ambivalent mix of enthusiasm, anticipation and fear – exactly the place where anxious workers often dwell.
Elmo also bypasses the racial and gendered dynamics inherent in sharing human GIFs, which may contain cultural references your colleagues may not understand and power dynamics that may offend coworkers. Lauren Michele Jackson wrote for Teen Vogue about this prevalent use of black people in reaction GIFs:
“We all need to be cognizant of what we share, how we share, and to what extent this dramatizes preexisting racial formulas inherited from real life.'” A children’s Muppet is better for workplace settings since it’s always meant to be just that – not an adult black person made to perform emotional labor online forever as your “yaas” response on Slack!
Elmo on Fire stands out with its straightforward design. The best GIFs captivate your attention, and a puppet on fire is easily legible without the need for captions. Plus, unlike other mixed news GIFs I’ve seen, Elmo’s fighting spirit is something I can relate to.
At one point, my manager discussed firings and decreasing cash flow with a GIF of the Titanic sinking.
Not my top choice. The sinking ship symbolizes defeat.
Elmo on Fire will not back down. His hands are raised high in the air, inviting everyone closer to the flame. There are no hunched shoulders of despair here; Elmo won’t just sip coffee and say, “This is fine” when things are anything but smooth. The furry red monster on fire doesn’t believe in false promises.
Elmo stands poised, eager for the ride of his life to begin. This Muppet wants to know just how far this Muppet’s imagination will take them.
I understand this mentality when numbers go into the red and colleagues start gossiping about your future plans. While I cannot guarantee you a job tomorrow, as your colleague I can promise that we will be here with you as you navigate this uncertain future together.
Communicating dissent in an increasingly technologically mediated workplace is becoming more challenging. If your off-the-cuff conversations were subpoenaed tomorrow – as they once were for Gawker employees – would you be prepared to defend them? I take comfort in knowing that Elmo remains silent while still leaving me room for multiple interpretations.
Reaction gifs are ultimately dependent on the sender’s relationship to the recipient for them to convey the intended meaning. Are you sending this Elmo in a world on fire GIF to a peer or manager? Proceed with caution. Personally, when I send Elmo in a world on fire to colleagues, it helps convey my “Ahhhhhh!” without saying it out loud.
“We are all in hell now,” Elmo confides in me. “The fires have been lit.”